Down Below

Down Below Author Leonora Carrington
ISBN-10 9781681370613
Year 2017-04-18
Pages 112
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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A stunning work of memoir and an unforgettable depiction of the brilliance and madness by one of Surrealism's most compelling figures In 1937 Leonora Carrington—later to become one of the twentieth century’s great painters of the weird, the alarming, and the wild—was a nineteen-year-old art student in London, beautiful and unapologetically rebellious. At a dinner party, she met the artist Max Ernst. The two fell in love and soon departed to live and paint together in a farmhouse in Provence. In 1940, the invading German army arrested Ernst and sent him to a concentration camp. Carrington suffered a psychotic break. She wept for hours. Her stomach became “the mirror of the earth”—of all worlds in a hostile universe—and she tried to purify the evil by compulsively vomiting. As the Germans neared the south of France, a friend persuaded Carrington to flee to Spain. Facing the approach “of robots, of thoughtless, fleshless beings,” she packed a suitcase that bore on a brass plate the word Revelation. This was only the beginning of a journey into madness that was to end with Carrington confined in a mental institution, overwhelmed not only by her own terrible imaginings but by her doctor’s sadistic course of treatment. In Down Below she describes her ordeal—in which the agonizing and the marvelous were equally combined—with a startling, almost impersonal precision and without a trace of self-pity. Like Daniel Paul Schreber’s Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, Down Below brings the hallucinatory logic of madness home.

The Milk of Dreams

The Milk of Dreams Author Leonora Carrington
ISBN-10 9781681370958
Year 2017-05-16
Pages 56
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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In English for the first time, a wild and darkly funny book that combines Surrealist painter Leonora Carringon's fantastical writing and illustrations for children The maverick surrealist Leonora Carrington was an extraordinary painter and storyteller who loved to make up stories and draw pictures for her children. She lived much of her life in Mexico, and her sons remember sitting in a big room whose walls were covered with images of wondrous creatures, towering mountains, and ferocious vegetation while she told fabulous and funny tales. That room was later whitewashed, but some of its wonders were preserved in the little notebook that Carrington called The Milk of Dreams. John, who has wings for ears, Humbert the Beautiful, an insufferable kid who befriends a crocodile and grows more insufferable yet, and the awesome Janzamajoria are all to be encountered in The Milk of Dreams, a book that is as unlikely, outrageous, and dreamy as dreams themselves.

Family Lexicon

Family Lexicon Author Natalia Ginzburg
ISBN-10 9781590178393
Year 2017-04-25
Pages 224
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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A masterpiece of European literature that blends family memoir and fiction An Italian family, sizable, with its routines and rituals, crazes, pet phrases, and stories, doubtful, comical, indispensable, comes to life in the pages of Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon. Giuseppe Levi, the father, is a scientist, consumed by his work and a mania for hiking—when he isn’t provoked into angry remonstration by someone misspeaking or misbehaving or wearing the wrong thing. Giuseppe is Jewish, married to Lidia, a Catholic, though neither is religious; they live in the industrial city of Turin where, as the years pass, their children find ways of their own to medicine, marriage, literature, politics. It is all very ordinary, except that the background to the story is Mussolini’s Italy in its steady downward descent to race law and world war. The Levis are, among other things, unshakeable anti-fascists. That will complicate their lives. Family Lexicon is about a family and language—and about storytelling not only as a form of survival but also as an instrument of deception and domination. The book takes the shape of a novel, yet everything is true. “Every time that I have found myself inventing something in accordance with my old habits as a novelist, I have felt impelled at once to destroy [it],” Ginzburg tells us at the start. “The places, events, and people are all real.”

Poets in a Landscape

Poets in a Landscape Author Gilbert Highet
ISBN-10 1590173384
Year 2010
Pages 276
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Gilbert Highet was a legendary teacher at Columbia University, admired both for his scholarship and his charisma as a lecturer. Poets in a Landscape is his delightful exploration of Latin literature and the Italian landscape. As Highet writes in his introduction, “I have endeavored to recall some of the greatest Roman poets by describing the places were they lived, recreating their characters and evoking the essence of their work.” The poets are Catullus, Vergil, Propertius, Horace, Tibullus, Ovid, and Juvenal. Highet brings them life, setting them in their historical context and locating them in the physical world, while also offering crisp modern translations of the poets’ finest work. The result is an entirely sui generis amalgam of travel writing, biography, criticism, and pure poetry—altogether an unexcelled introduction to the world of the classics.

Thus Were Their Faces

Thus Were Their Faces Author Silvina Ocampo
ISBN-10 9781590177990
Year 2015-01-27
Pages 384
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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An NYRB Classics Original Thus Were Their Faces offers a comprehensive selection of the short fiction of Silvina Ocampo, undoubtedly one of the twentieth century’s great masters of the story and the novella. Here are tales of doubles and impostors, angels and demons, a marble statue of a winged horse that speaks, a beautiful seer who writes the autobiography of her own death, a lapdog who records the dreams of an old woman, a suicidal romance, and much else that is incredible, mad, sublime, and delicious. Italo Calvino has written that no other writer “better captures the magic inside everyday rituals, the forbidden or hidden face that our mirrors don’t show us.” Jorge Luis Borges flatly declared, “Silvina Ocampo is one of our best writers. Her stories have no equal in our literature.” Dark, gothic, fantastic, and grotesque, these haunting stories are among the world’s most individual and finest.

Ernesto

Ernesto Author Umberto Saba
ISBN-10 9781786690104
Year 2017-08-10
Pages 320
Language en
Publisher Head of Zeus Ltd
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Ernesto is sixteen years old and ready for life to begin. His curiosity leads him into an affair with an older man – the first step on his journey to adulthood. Full of tenderness, humour and warmth, Ernesto is a beautifully rendered coming-of-age story. Written in 1953, but not published until 1975, this is the great Italian poet's most personal and confessional novel, presented here for the first time in unexpurgated form.

Speedboat

Speedboat Author Renata Adler
ISBN-10 9781590176337
Year 2013-03-19
Pages 192
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. When Speedboat burst on the scene in the late ’70s it was like nothing readers had encountered before. It seemed to disregard the rules of the novel, but it wore its unconventionality with ease. Reading it was a pleasure of a new, unexpected kind. Above all, there was its voice, ambivalent, curious, wry, the voice of Jen Fain, a journalist negotiating the fraught landscape of contemporary urban America. Party guests, taxi drivers, brownstone dwellers, professors, journalists, presidents, and debutantes fill these dispatches from the world as Jen finds it. A touchstone over the years for writers as different as David Foster Wallace and Elizabeth Hardwick, Speedboat returns to enthrall a new generation of readers.

Zama

Zama Author Antonio Di Benedetto
ISBN-10 9781590177358
Year 2016-08-23
Pages 224
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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An NYRB Classics Original First published in 1956, Zama is now universally recognized as one of the masterpieces of modern Argentine and Spanish-language literature. Written in a style that is both precise and sumptuous, weirdly archaic and powerfully novel, Zama takes place in the last decade of the eighteenth century and describes the solitary, suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, a highly placed servant of the Spanish crown who has been posted to Asunción, the capital of remote Paraguay. There, eaten up by pride, lust, petty grudges, and paranoid fantasies, he does as little as he possibly can while plotting his eventual transfer to Buenos Aires, where everything about his hopeless existence will, he is confident, be miraculously transformed and made good. Don Diego’s slow, nightmarish slide into the abyss is not just a tale of one man’s perdition but an exploration of existential, and very American, loneliness. Zama, with its stark dreamlike prose and spare imagery, is at once dense and unforeseen, terse and fateful, marked throughout by a haunting movement between sentences, paragraphs, and sections, so that every word seems to emerge from an ocean of things left unsaid. The philosophical depths of this great book spring directly from its dazzling prose.

The Farm in the Green Mountains

The Farm in the Green Mountains Author Alice Herdan-Zuckmayer
ISBN-10 9781681370750
Year 2017-05-02
Pages 256
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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The Farm in the Green Mountains is a story of a refugee family finding its true home—thousands of miles from its homeland. Alice and Carl Zuckmayer lived at the center of Weimarera Berlin. She was a former actor turned medical student, he was a playwright, and their circle of friends included Stefan Zweig, Alma Mahler, and Bertolt Brecht. But then the Nazis took over and Carl’s most recent success, a play satirizing German militarism, impressed them in all the wrong ways. The couple and their two daughters were forced to flee, first to Austria, then to Switzerland, and finally to the United States. Los Angeles didn’t suit them, neither did New York, but a chance stroll in the Vermont woods led them to Backwoods Farm and the eighteenth-century farmhouse where they would spend the next five years. In Europe, the Zuckmayers were accustomed to servants; in Vermont, they found themselves building chicken coops, refereeing fights between fractious ducks, and caring for temperamental water pipes “like babies.” But in spite of the endless work and the brutal, depressing winters, Alice found that in America she had at last discovered her “native land.” This generous, surprising, and witty memoir, a best seller in postwar Germany, has all the charm of an unlikely romantic comedy.

Love s Work

Love s Work Author Gillian Rose
ISBN-10 9781590174111
Year 2011-05-31
Pages 176
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Love’s Work is at once a memoir and a book of philosophy. Written by the English philosopher Gillian Rose as she was dying of cancer, it is a book about both the fallibility and endurance of love, love that becomes real and endures through an ongoing reckoning with its own limitations. Rose looks back on her childhood, the complications of her parents’ divorce and her dyslexia, and her deep and divided feelings about what it means to be Jewish. She tells the stories of several friends also laboring under the sentence of death. From the sometimes conflicting vantage points of her own and her friends’ tales, she seeks to work out (seeks, because the work can never be complete—to be alive means to be incomplete) a distinctive outlook on life, one that will do justice to our yearning both for autonomy and for connection to others. With droll self knowledge (“I am highly qualified in unhappy love affairs,” Rose writes, “My earliest unhappy love affair was with Roy Rogers”) and with unsettling wisdom (“To live, to love, is to be failed”), Rose has written a beautiful, tender, tough, and intricately wrought survival kit packed with necessary but unanswerable questions.

Primitive Man as Philosopher

Primitive Man as Philosopher Author Paul Radin
ISBN-10 0486424952
Year 2002-11
Pages 512
Language en
Publisher Courier Corporation
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Classic of anthropology explores belief systems of Winnebago, Oglala Sioux, Maori, Banda, Batak, Tahitian and Hawaiian, Zuni, and Ewe. Fascinating topics include purpose of life, marriage, freedom of thought, death, nature of reality, and other concepts. The author allows his subjects to speak for themselves by quoting extensively from interviews.

Totempole

Totempole Author Sanford Friedman
ISBN-10 9781590177877
Year 2014-09-02
Pages 432
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Totempole is Sanford Friedman’s radical coming-of-age novel, featuring Stephen Wolfe, a young Jewish boy growing up in New York City and its environs during the Depression and war years. In eight discrete chapters, which trace Stephen’s evolution from a two-year-old boy to a twenty-four-year-old man, Friedman describes with psychological acuity and great empathy Stephen’s intellectual, moral, and sexual maturation. Taught to abhor his body for the sake of his soul, Stephen finds salvation in the eventual unification of the two, the recognition that body and soul should not be partitioned but treated as one being, one complete man.

Hard Rain Falling

Hard Rain Falling Author Don Carpenter
ISBN-10 9781590173909
Year 2010-06-23
Pages 336
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Don Carpenter’s Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary confinement. In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class—married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end.

My Fantoms

My Fantoms Author Théophile Gautier
ISBN-10 9781590172711
Year 2008
Pages 194
Language en
Publisher New York Review of Books
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Romantic provocateur, flamboyant bohemian, precocious novelist, perfect poet—not to mention an inexhaustible journalist, critic, and man-about-town—Théophile Gautier is one of the major figures, and great characters, of French literature. In My Fantoms Richard Holmes, the celebrated biographer of Shelley and Coleridge, has found a brilliantly effective new way to bring this great bu too-little-known writer into English. My Fantoms assembles seven stories spanning the whole of Gautier’s career into a unified work that captures the essence of his adventurous life and subtle art. From the erotic awakening of “The Adolescent” through “The Poet,” a piercing recollection of the mad genius Gérard de Nerval, the great friend of Gautier’s youth, My Fantoms celebrates the senses and illuminates the strange disguises of the spirit, while taking readers on a tour of modernity at its most mysterious. ”What ever would the Devil find to do in Paris?” Gautier wonders. “He would meet people just as diabolical as he, and find himself taken for some naïve provincial…” Tapestries, statues, and corpses come to life; young men dream their way into ruin; and Gautier keeps his faith in the power of imagination: “No one is truly dead, until they are no longer loved.”

Hindoo Holiday

Hindoo Holiday Author J. R. Ackerley
ISBN-10 9780141900032
Year 2009-03-26
Pages 288
Language en
Publisher Penguin UK
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In the 1920s, the young J. R. Ackerley spent several months in India as the personal secretary to the maharajah of a small Indian principality. In his journals, Ackerley recorded the Maharajah's fantastically eccentric habits and riddling conversations, and the odd shambling day-to-day life of his court. Hindoo Holiday is an intimate and very funny account of an exceedingly strange place, and one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century travel literature.